Retired Arlington teacher, volunteer honored by senior center

ARLINGTON — Ruth Munizza, a musically inclined educator who worked with Arlington children and teens for decades, is receiving this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Stillaguamish Senior Center.

Every year, the center honors someone who has had an effect on the community through service, Executive Director Jo Olson said.

“More than 2,000 children found friends and learned life skills including independence, cooperation and confidence through Ruth’s dedication, excitement and passion for teaching young minds,” Olson wrote in a short biography of Munizza.

Munizza was the seventh of 13 children. She grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and attended the University of Washington to study physical education.

She moved to Arlington in 1948 to teach physical education for girls at Arlington High School. She met her husband, coach Larry Munizza, and they married in 1950. The couple had four girls who all went to Arlington High School.

“She was a popular teacher with her classes, always showing you where to look, not what to see,” Olson wrote.

Munizza taught at the high school for four years before taking a job at the Arlington Cooperative Preschool, where she was a teacher and leader for 37 years. She retired in 2000.

Aside from her career as a teacher, she also instructed girls through Camp Fire USA. She volunteered as a leader for five different groups over the course of 28 years. She taught crafts, cooking, camping and homemaking.

“We just did a variety of things in the group,” Munizza said. “We did a lot of dancing and singing.”

Music is important to Munizza. She’s a talented pianist who directs the Chancel Choir at the Arlington United Church, where she has been an active member since 1960, Olson said. She also taught Sunday School at the church.

Munizza was a member of the Lady Lions in Arlington, where she helped sell bonds for Arlington General Hospital, fireworks at the Fourth of July Lions Club booth and cookies at local rest stops.

She’s been hampered in her usual volunteer activities for about a month because of a fractured pelvis, Munizza said. She’s been getting around with a walker and is now working on walking again without it. She’d like to be back in front of the choir, directing her church’s music.

“I expect to get back to it soon,” she said.

Munizza declined to give her age. “I’m old enough to know better,” she said.

There are other people Munizza feels deserve the award as much as she does. She’s volunteered a lot with the city, but there are always those who do so much more, she said.

“I know there are lots of people who deserve it,” she said. “But how do you choose?”

A Lifetime Achievement Award breakfast is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The breakfast is a fundraiser for the Stillaguamish Senior Center.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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